Adam Gemili pointed to a stream of “bad press” over an investigation into his coach Rana Reider and said it had contributed to his exit in the heats of the 200m at the World Athletics Championships on Monday.
Reider, who runs the Tumbleweed Track Club in Florida, is under investigation for sexual misconduct and was cautioned by police in Eugene at the weekend after gaining unauthorised access to the athlete warm-up area.
Gemili clocked 20.60sec in his heat, meaning the British sprinter missed out on automatic qualification for the semi-finals and while he admitted it was “not good enough”, he also stressed the pressure he felt under as a result of the publicity surrounding Reider.
“There has been a lot of bad press around my set-up and me and it’s been relentless, every week it’s just taken its toll,” the 28-year-old told BBC Sport. “I am old enough now that I should be able to separate it but I haven’t really been subject to this amount of press before.
“This year I have taken a battering and it’s showing. I just was not good enough today.”
As the Guardian revealed last year, Reider is being investigated by the US Center for SafeSport organisation, a powerful and independent body that handles investigations and complaints into abuse and misconduct in Olympic sports.
UK Athletics later warned Gemili – as well as other British athletes who were part of Reider’s group – to cease contact with the coach – or else his membership into the World Class Programme, including lottery funding, would be suspended. Fellow British sprinter Daryll Neita left Reider’s Florida training group but Gemili and Laviai Nielsen were removed from the programme in December after opting to stay with him.
Reider denies any wrongdoing in the SafeSport investigation through his lawyer, Ryan Stevens, who says the allegations against his client are “unvetted” and “unproven”.
Gemili later apologised for his comments, writing on Twitter: “No excuse other than I wasn’t good enough. The blame is on me.
“I also shouldn’t have made comments about the press when interviewed. I do understand they have a job to do but it’s just been a lot to deal [with] and hope you can understand that.”